Striking Gold in Female-Led Businesses

We’ve all heard the saying: “Behind every great man is a great woman.” This International Women’s Day, I want to explore this statement from a business perspective, that behind every great company is a great woman.

This is certainly true of Somerset Estates, the female-led business I struck gold with, that has allowed me to grow in unique ways. Somerset Estates has the advantage of being approachable and trustworthy, and gender parity within the company is not only a bonus, but a shared value. Having Philippa Somerset as my line manager has allowed me to work directly with a fantastic role model, and has given me ample room to grow and take on more responsibilities.

Philippa ensured that from the moment we started working together that I was fully involved in, and understood, the day to day running of each of our clients’ properties. This meant that in any emergent situation, I know exactly what to do in order to provide the best service and outcome for our clients. On one occasion, just before Christmas 2019, I discovered a leak at a client’s penthouse during a routine property check. The training I had received from Philippa is likely the reason that I didn’t simply panic. I was quickly able to arrange for a maintenance team to attend to investigate and stop the leak, before any further damage occurred. Confidence, competence, and an unwavering focus on growth makes us stand out in a traditionally male-dominated industry, and has shaped my personal journey, desire to learn, and ability to make my capabilities known.

I grew up with an acute awareness of the challenges surrounding construction and property. My father is the Managing Director of a small but successful M&E company, and he ensured that from a young age I had some basic knowledge of all things construction – a fact that never fails to surprise people! I’d like to see more female involvement in the field.

In a field with no shortage of challenges, which are often unexpected, I have learned how to overcome roadblocks. Embracing difficulties and learning from them – What would I do differently next time? Would I handle that situation differently in the future? –  this is all part of learning and developing in any career. We need to experience the times when things haven’t gone to plan; when we’re pulled left, right and centre out of our comfort zones. These experiences are just as important as the successes – its character and career building. Early on, I recognised that it is easy to be overlooked and have your opinions drowned out in Property and Construction. A lot of people can overlook young women in the construction industry, assuming that our knowledge is limited. I sometimes wish I could tell my younger self to speak up more and push to be heard and ask more questions, to both show people my own capability but also to be unafraid to ask for help and assistance. I used to think this revealed a sign of weakness, when ultimately it simply shows a desire to learn more!

I have learned to talk about myself in higher regard and be proud of my success so far – writing this personal article is an achievement for me! I often get the impression that many men don’t experience this ‘anxiety’ surrounding talking about themselves. I urge all women, today and every day to be proud of your achievements and shout about your story. As an industry, we are making prominent strides towards equal opportunities. This has resulted in a higher number of women in senior roles, which I know has gone hand-in-hand with the positive progression of our industry.

I’d like you all to think of a great woman behind the successful running of your own business or development, and take note of how they have driven its growth. I am sure that amongst the stories of successful women in business you will hear this week, you will be able to relate with your own personal experiences. I thank you personally, and on behalf of Somerset Estates for your support in advancing successful women in business, and am wishing a Happy International Women’s Day to the women that inspire us in every way.

Written by Rachel Milliams (Property Manager)

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